Meet the artists: Silja Tuovinen and Rita Marcalo

Today marks the start of the CROWD 2022 residency programme, a summer of international exchange across Finland, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK where our ten dance artists will work in pairs across two residencies.

The first residency is taking place in TaikaBox, Finland with dance artists Silja Tuovinen and Rita Marcalo. We caught up with Silja and Rita to find out more about their involvement in CROWD and what they hope to explore during their residencies:

Silja Tuovinen 

Image © Shauheen Daneshfar

Silja Tuovinen is a Finnish choreographer and researcher working between Oulu, Stockholm, and Berlin with both dance performance and film. She is interested in exploring different forms of collaboration and companionship as part of the artistic work, including both professional and non-professional communities.

What are you hoping to explore during the CROWD 2022 residencies?
I am hoping to explore during CROWD 2022 residencies different ways in which dance can become a part of already existing activities in non-dance communities. What could dance or choreographic thinking add to these activities?

Why did you want to be a CROWD 2022 artist?
I became interested in becoming CROWD 2022 artist after meeting some of the artists from the previous year during one of their residencies. The proactivity and companionship they shared with each other was uplifting and inspiring for me. 

CROWD 2022 resists dancemaking as a lonely project both through its theme and its form, which is the main reason why I wanted to become part of it.

What are you looking forward to the most in terms of the residencies and the overall CROWD 2022 programme?
I am most looking forward to sharing ideas and findings with this diverse group of artists and institutions and seeing whether new projects could emerge from this meeting. 

What made you interested in creating art with the community?
Creating art with or amongst a community can add polyphonic qualities to artmaking and has the potential to help art resonate among wider public.

What is the strength of community based work for you?
A strength of community-based work is that it can resist loneliness on many levels of artmaking and personal lives. 

What are the limitations working with a community?
A limiting factor in working with community is that it can require a lot of time to pass to start establishing trust and working practices with a new group of people.

Rita Marcalo

Image © Rita Marcalo

Rita Marcalo is the Artistic Director of Ireland-based Instant Dissidence, which is her way of bringing different artists together, in different combinations, to realise different ideas: through Instant Dissidence Rita invents ways of offering other people art experiences and solve creative problems. Rita will be on residency with Silja Tuovinen at TaikaBox (Finland) and Dance Limerick (Ireland).

What are you hoping to explore during the CROWD 2022 residencies?
I am currently interested in how to use communication platforms (YouTube, social media, etc) subversively. The reason for this is that I am concerned with the amount of propaganda that I can see happening through those media, and I want to create socially-engaged work which highlights that.

Why did you want to be a CROWD 2022 artist?
For me CROWD represents the opportunity to  engage in exchange in socially-engaged practice with other choreographers, something which I have not experienced in dance before. Indeed, the peer group that I often engage with for these conversations tends to be from the visual arts. I am not sure why: perhaps because socially-engaged practice is less developed in dance? 

What are you looking forward to the most in terms of the residencies and the overall CROWD 2022 programme?
My work as a socially-engaged artist was developed primarily in the UK, and from within the UK paradigm of what it means to engage with communities. I am curious as to how socially and/or community engaged dance practice is understood/practiced in other countries, and I look forward to learning from different models and paradigms.

What made you interested in creating art with the community?
At some point in my career I became acutely aware of two things… Firstly that the work I was creating was always reaching the same audiences (other artists, or people from middle to upper class backgrounds). And secondly that creating work from my perspective (as a white, cis, middle class woman) was leaving out all sorts of richness that the work could have if it was co-created with a more diverse group of people.

So it was for these two reasons – to broaden my audiences and the perspectives put forward in my work – I decided to shift my practice into socially-engaged work.

What is the strength of community based work for you?
Giving voice to communities who might not always have the opportunity to express themselves through art.

What are the limitations working with a community?
I wouldn’t say that there are limitations, but that the artistic process and the artist’s artistic vision needs to be second place to the ways in which a community organises itself, and the vision it wants to put forward.

Does Community dance travel? How?
I am currently researching a model for international touring of dance which aims to be relevant to local communities. The choreographic project is called SlowMo and you can read more about it here: https://www.thevillage.ie/slowmo-connecting-cloughjordan-ecovillage-to-continental-europe-via-land-sea-and-dance/


Across the coming months, we’ll be inviting our ten artists and the host partners to capture elements of their residencies and share insight into their work and the areas they’re exploring within the realm of community-engaged dance. Follow our blog here and #CROWDdance on social media for further updates.

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